Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Facebook Status Makes You Sad...

... and yours makes me sad. Thus sayeth the Germans.

According to a study performed jointly by two German universities and reported by Reuters, reading other users' status updates creates feelings of envy, which we attempt to assuage by up-selling our own accomplishments and experiences, which then causes envy in others.

Apparently the greatest offenders, making up 56.3% of all "envy-inducing incidents", are travel and leisure updates. Not since Uncle Frank used to pull out the dreaded slide projector at family gatherings to show snapshots of his trip to Moose Jaw has the cold terror of vacation pictures gripped us so firmly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Meet Your New Big Brother

In an alarming twist of events a group of 13 Canadian industry associations calling themselves the "Coalition of Business and Technology Associations" is lobbying the government to explicitly legalize the use of covert software to protect their interests on consumers' home PCs.

When I say "covert software" I mean legalized spyware, which is software that reports your activity back to someone else without your knowledge, and trojans, which are programs that open up control of your PC to someone else.

The alarm bells are being rung, thanks to a timely article by Professor Michael Geist. He notes that this Coalition includes, among others, "the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Marketing Association, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada".

Under their proposed amendments to the law these groups could spy on and take control of a user's system any time they "reasonably believed" the user might be doing something wrong. If you think this is hyperbole, please read on. I sincerely wish it was not as crazy as it sounds.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Can a Panda Get Some Privacy, Please?

Not one of the pandas in the story, but still dang cute
Let me say this: I love pandas. I turn on the San Diego Zoo's Panda Cam whenever I need a smile.

But is there such a thing as too much panda information?

The National Zoo recently made headlines when it did a "live-tweet" of an attempt to artificially inseminate a panda.

On April 30 the hashtag #pandaAI opened the door to a world few of us could ever have peered into before, complete with photos and expert commentary.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Identity Crisis!

Welcome to Faceborg - today I invite you to learn with me from my misfortune.

I've written a lot here on identity. My previous posts, Who Are You: Part I and Part II dealt with the ideas of  the persistent, static identity we create for ourselves.

What I did not mention, and it appears I may have failed to consider, is the identity others create for us.

One of the aforementioned posts contains a quote I now feel falls into the "practice what you preach" category:

"You have, or soon will have, an online identity. The technology is evolving so rapidly that there will be few ways the average person can be anonymous. The question now is how you choose to manage your identity"

I'm naturally a fairly shy person and that carries over into the Internet. I enjoy creating content and being part of communities online but I tend not to do so under my real name. It's safer that way, right?


Monday, March 5, 2012

When Robots Come Calling (or "All Your Call Display Are Belong to Us")

For any who haven't been following the "robo call" scandal, the gist is this: during the most recent Canadian federal election there were some instances of people receiving automated telephone calls telling them that their polling station had been changed, prompting many to go to the wrong polling station and therefore not voting.

The scandalous part is the possibility of a link between these nefarious phone calls and the the Conservative Party of Canada.

What makes the issue terribly difficult to deal with is that today's "robo calls" are part of a new style of telephony that most of us simply do not understand. For this reason, I am offering this primer on the New World Order of telephones.

Friday, January 27, 2012

This is Your Brain on the Internet

It's official - the Internet causes brain damage.

If scores of cat videos, sneezing pandas, Rick Astley's surprise comeback and the Trololol guy weren't enough to convince you, then you should check out this article on Mashable.

According to the article a recent study has shown that excessive internet usage (at the point it might legitimately qualify as an addiction) "can cause structural damage to your brain".

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Internet is Ruining Canada!

Well, perhaps that's a little strong, but in an interview with The Globe and Mail the outgoing head of the CRTC noted that the Internet has really changed how Canadians receive content and that the CRTC's Canadian content regulations are no longer effective.

For those unfamiliar with Canada's stalwart defenses against the relentless assault on our culture by outside media, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) specifies minimum Canadian content requirements for both radio (35% Canadian content) and television (60% Canadian content).